Transparency – The True Meaning of the Word

The watchword for 2009 and 2010 seems to be “transparency.”

While politicians bicker in Washington on just about everything, one item they should agree on is a desire from the public for more disclosure and open dialogue.

This is not a new occurrence. For many decades, the government has been guided by “Sunshine laws,” open door requirements, and outreach processes to allow adequate public participation.

Now, the question can become, does the government actually listen to the public and offer up more than government-speak to curious citizens?

I’ve been on the road facilitating public outreach meetings for a government agency. We’re traveling around the Pacific Northwest and talking with a variety of citizenry about Cold-War legacy, nuclear materials cleanup.

I am convinced these government officials are very genuine in their interests to obtain public input and disclose everything they know about the problem we confront in nuclear waste cleanup.

Why do I believe this? Well, first, they assembled a 6,000 page Environmental Impact Statement that covers more than we’d ever want to know about the problem. Second, they are traveling endless hours — to sometimes remote locations — to garner public input. Third, they developed a wide variety of easy-to-understand fliers, handouts and posters to offer up valid and simple explanations. Lastly, they created CDs of reports, assembled a content rich Web site and other consumer friendly stuff.

All in all, this public involvement process shows me there is a way to offer up full disclosure and develop good discourse on government actions in the name of transparency.

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